But with that being said, for many the dream of owning a home is still just that ... a dream. One major hurdle to home ownership, even for a person with a qualifying credit score, is coming up with the money for a down payment on a home.
Through Wells Fargo and the nonprofit, NeighborWorks America – a leader in affordable housing and community development, native Northsider, Kimberly Smith-Moore, is offering many homebuyers the chance to get into their new home with down payment assistance grants of up to $30,000.
"There are people out there who are hard working people who have decent credit, but just don't have the money for a down payment," said Smith-Moore, vice president of customer grants programs with Wells Fargo Mortgage Servicing. "We want to show that home ownership is still alive."
Wells Fargo introduced the LIFT programs to help housing markets recover in the wake of the housing crisis, and to support homeownership and advance neighborhood recovery through a commitment to home lending, homebuyer education, and homebuyer support. According to Smith-Moore, to date, more than 7,600 new homeowners have been able to achieve the dream of homeownership with the support of LIFT programs. In the Twin Cities, the cooperative for profit and not for profit partnership has poured in more than $9 million to support moderate to middle income home buying. Nationwide that dollar amount will reach $215 million spread across 29 markets including, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, Oakland, Miami and other major metropolitan areas. Locally, eight nonprofit organizations received grants through the NeighborhoodLIFT Program for a total of $1,150,000. Beneficiaries include Home Ownership Center ($200,000), Minneapolis Urban League ($80,000) EMERGE ($80,000) Neighborhood Development Alliance ($80,000) Resource Inc. ($80,000) Build Wealth ($80,000) Hmong Partnership Group ($80,000) Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio ($80,000) and Twin Cities Public Television, which received the largest grant ($390,000) for financial education.
In addition to providing down payment assistance ... up to $30,000 depending on the market ... LIFT requires program participants to attend home buying classes to better prepare buyers for the process of home buying and to help budget and maintain the home once the sale is closed. Participants in LIFT are obligated to remain in the home for a minimum of five years – a requirement that Smith-Moore said was put in place to achieve neighborhood stabilization.
Home ownership and neighborhood stabilization are ideals very important to Smith-Moore.
"I was born and raised on the Northside (of Minneapolis) and my mother (Kay Smith, a retired teaching aid) was a first generation home owner and she was able to purchase her home using a down payment assistance program," said Smith-Moore, who now makes her home in Brooklyn Park."
Smith-Moore, a graduate of Metropolitan State University, has been with Wells Fargo for 15 years, rising from a customer service representative to vice president. In addition, the married mother of two sons in college is a licensed realtor and has started a nonprofit, Positive Influence Mentoring, with the goal of mentoring teenage girls.
Recently Smith-Moore was featured in Black Enterprise for her work with the LIFT programs.